1- Don’t be frustrated – Depending on your personality, passive-aggressive behavior can be extremely frustrating. What ever you do, don’t just act like you are not frustrated. Trust me, the passive-aggressive can out last that. You have to truly be unfrustrated by it.
2- Direct confrontation is pointless – You are dealing with an indirect personality trait that will simply dodge and dive if you attempt to deal with it directly. While there will be windows for you to deal with it directly, it most often takes an indirect approach to draw out a more open and direct response from the passive-aggressive. Once the mole is out of the hole, deal directly with the issues.
3- Slow and steady – While it may seem like the previous encouragement was to become passive-aggressive to combat passive-aggressive behavior, that’s not really the answer. Passive-aggressive behavior often looks like polite stubborn reluctance. Here’s the bombshell, the passive-aggressive person thinks and hopes you will go away if they just ignore you long enough. Gently apply continuous and relentless pressure to the passive-aggressive. Think about it as passive resistance.
4- You’re not crazy – The passive-aggressive will have you convinced that you were totally wrong, completely off the mark, and have completely misunderstood their intentions. You didn’t. Be cautious, because if you snag that line before you’ve hooked the big one, you will have given them all the reason in the world to avoid you entirely because you’re obviously crazy. You’re not.
5- Don’t be overworked – Relationships are worth fighting for no matter their level of intimacy. You have to know these realities about the passive-aggressive person and care for them in spite of their non-actions. Be warned, you will be tempted to think that you just need to communicate more, different, louder, or more creatively. You don’t. They hear you loud and clear. They’re choosing to ignore you. Do not add more work and stress to your life. Just keep communicating and relating as you have been. Whatever you do, don’t go to the other extreme and stop communicating and relating, that’s what they’re aiming for. You’re just going to have to trust me on that one because getting them to admit that is like stumbling across a beached Loch Ness monster.
There are many other ways in which you can relate to the passive-aggressive, but I’ve found these to be most redeeming and satisfying. Know what you’re looking for; procrastination, the silent treatment, withdrawing, pretending not to see, hear, or understand what’s actually happening, and highly gossipy in a way that you might not even recognize as traditional gossip.